A Q&A with one of the 750 students who received a diploma Dec. 14 at UW-Stout:
Name: Asa Giannini
Hometown: Zumbrota, Minn.
Major: Graphic design and interactive media
Awards, honors: Summa cum laude, Chancellor’s Award for each semester
Why did you choose UW-Stout? Stout is my second bachelor's degree, having previously received a degree in mathematics from another school. When I realized I was serious about graphic design and was looking for the college that would be right for me, Stout was the obvious decision. Having already been through college once, I wanted a school that was serious and practical, that would give me real job skills. Stout's program came highly recommended from some people I knew in the game design and interior design programs. After a phone conversation with Dave Beck, director of the School of Art and Design, I realized Stout was exactly what I was after.
What are the biggest obstacles you faced in earning your degree? Coming back to school after already having done it was, at first, a terrifying prospect. I had taken art courses before but was not confident I had the skills or talent needed to make it in graphic design or the arts in general. In my first art class, Drawing 2, I was terrified since it had been a full five years since I had taken Drawing 1 at a different school. However, the professor of that class, Robert Atwell, whom I can't thank enough for his constant support and enthusiasm, pushed me to work hard despite my nervousness. By the end of that semester I felt like I could thrive in the environment at Stout and that I had made the right decision by coming back to school. In general, whenever I've struggled with confidence, the professors at Stout have encouraged and challenged me to keep on track in a way that has grown me as a designer. Specifically, Robert Fraher, Katherine Lupton and Nagesh Shinde have all helped me during tough times as a student where I wasn't sure I was up to the challenge of graphic design.
What stands out among your college experiences? Stout is the first time in my life where I've really felt like I was in a place where I belonged. Certain typical, cliched college moments that everyone goes through feel special and memorable to me because they happened at a place and time that means so much to me. Getting my first off-campus apartment, meeting other design students for the first time, learning that a piece of work from a past semester was being used as a positive example for others: all of these are moments that stay with me and bring me joy. Recently, I was able to act as tutor for Robert Atwell's 371 Interactive Media (coding websites) course — seeing students who are at the level I was at just a few years ago and being able to help and encourage them in their journeys at Stout.
What’s next? I have come to love Menomonie and the surrounding area and am planning on living here after graduation. I have an internship I love with the local design firm Studio MLM, which has been an amazing experience in applying the skills and knowledge I've gained. With the strong connections I've made with peers, educators and professionals within the design industry, I feel incredibly optimistic about my outlook.